The Third Democracy: Tocqueville's Views on America after 1840

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Tocqueville's Democracy in America offered the image of an accomplished and successful democratic regime. Although Tocqueville never wrote a third volume, he continued to be interested in American political events and exchanged a number of important letters with his American friends after 1840. Did Tocqueville change his views on America outlined in the two volumes published in 1835 and 1840? If so, did the evolution of his views of America affect his theory of democracy? The paper answers these questions by examining Tocqueville's unduly neglected correspondence with his American friends. It seeks to reconstruct what Volume Three of Democracy in America might have looked like if it had ever been written. In these letters, Tocqueville addressed important topics such as the instability of the market and the immaturity of American democracy, issues that did not loom large in the two published volumes. The paper shows that in the last years of his life Tocqueville became very disenchanted with American political life and reassessed some of his previous views of American democracy.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-404
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2004